H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

A poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient online

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Turks had their summer residences there. Athens will rise
again year by year, and handsome villas will spring up in the
fruitful district. In the middle of the village stands a Turk-
ish mosque, which is now converted into a stable. The founda-
tion of the minaret is the only part of it remaining, but before
it grows the largest and finest plantain I have yet seen.



I 84 A POET'S BAZAAR.

The strong bowed branches formed a crown which almost
overshadowed the whole open place. We spread our cloaks
out on the grassy carpet under the tree, placed our wine bot
ties about us, and made a meal, surrounded by Greek women,
who, it being their fast time, certainly envied us our nourishing
dishes. After our repast we took a pleasant road through the
woods, where the fountains rippled, where everything was lux-
uriant and green, reminding me of the fruitful tract between
Naples and Posilippo. Wild fruit-trees and odorous vines
grew round about the tract down to the large olive grove ;
here were arable land and vineyards. We saw what Greece
could be made, and it appeared to me on this day of liberty
to be a prophetic sight.

In the midst of the wood was a rocky basin. The rivulet
formed small cascades. We descended the falls ; the green
branches hung over our heads, and the water splashed fresh
and clear ; the sunbeams made the leaves transparent ; the
birds twittered in the bushes, and on the path close by there
came a cavalcade of ladies and gentlemen on horseback in Eu-
ropean dresses, who belonged to the court of King Otho ; we
greeted each other, and they disappeared behind the hedges.
Now came one who had lingered behind, a young girl on
horseback in full Greek costume, and with the red fez fastened
on her jet-black hair. Her royal brow, her bold dark eyes,
and her daring carriage, made us believe that we saw a real
Amazon. She darted like a beautiful vision through the wood
like the Queen of the Grecian elves ! She was the daughter
of the hero Marco Bozzaris, the most beautiful woman in
Athens, and one of the ladies of honor to the Queen of Greece.

The sun began to approach the mountains ; we mounted
our horses again, but it was dark before we reached Athens.
The whole Acropolis was illuminated with many lights. The
effect was splendid ; the radiance beamed aloft in the blue air,
and as we by degrees approached Athens we looked over the
city, and it appeared as if it were a ray of glory from the many
lamps and lights with which the houses were illumined. Can-
dles were fixed in the balconies ; lustres festooned with flowers
and covered with colored lamps, hung across the street, or
outside the open shops ; the fruit bazaars glowed with light.



THE FEAST OF FREEDOM. \ 85

and showed their glowing oranges, dark-brown dates, and
large walnuts. In many of the windows were placed engrav-
ings, portraits of the poet Rhigas, Miaulis, Marco Bozzaris,
and King Otho. In ^Eolus Street were several transparencies ;
on one we saw a grave, from which a young Greek arose with
the flag of freedom in his hand ; on another was a Greek ship
in a storm. Beneath them all we read appropriate verses in
modern Greek.

One transparency, in particular, attracted attention ; it repre-
sented a goat gnawing a vine ; the Greek verse beneath is well
known, as well as the German translation, which runs thus :

" Friszt Du mich auch bis zur Wurzel, doch trag'ich Trauben genug noch
Wein zu spenden, o Bock, wenn Du als Opfer erliegst ! "

I found it applied justly to the Turks, whose yoke the peo-
ple had groaned under ; however, some Bavarians whom I met
explained the verse quite differently, supposing it was intended
for them ! Certain it is, that the Greeks do not favor these
strangers ; but during my stay I never observed any visible
signs of dislike.

^Eolus Street, the broadest in Athens, and which extends in
a direct line toward the Acropolis, was crowded with joyous
Greeks ; lamps and candles converted night into day. The
bands of the regiments passed along playing martial airs. The
buildings toward the Acropolis formed terraces for the rows
of lamps; the red flame on the topmost wall of the city
brought into view the old temple columns in a flickering light.
Songs, accompanied by the mandolin, sounded from the open
shops, and in the Franks' coffee-house there was a crowd
around the latest journals, to see what the rest of Europe said
about the revolt of the Candians. The news from Crete, the
verbal as well as what the journals brought, in a measure
varied ; but it was reported, as a certainty, that arms and am-
munition had been sent secretly from the magazine at Patras.
More than one cup was emptied by the enthusiastic Greeks to
the success of the Candians.

The report of muskets and songs was heard until far into
the night in the city of Athens, and in the stone cabins amongst
the lonely mountains.



I 86 A POET'S BAZAAR.



THE MARBLE LION.

IT was on a beautiful sunshiny day that we trotted merrily
out of Athens over the wide, rugged plain, through the native
place of Socrates, where wild fruit-trees formed small gardens.
A solitary cloister lay toward Hymettus ; we went at a brisk
trot, and my agojal ran by my side.

The prospect between Pentelicon and Hymettus opened
upon an extensive surface, and what a blue and shining sea
was there ! We saw the island of Zea and the whole Negro-
pont with its beautifully formed mountain. On our way thither,
we saw only one single, lonely cabin, with a rush-thatched
roof, reaching nearly to the ground. The woman and chil-
dren came out to see the strangers. We ordered our coffee
with her, to be ready on our return, and then rode away over
plants, bushes, and tall Oleaceae.

All was wide and void. The ruins of a church stood on
the heath, with a magnificent olive-tree outside, worthy of
being painted. Close by lay a large marble lion, an antique
monument ; Lais himself had such a one on his grave. It
was strangely impressive to find here, in this desert, a torso
of the beautiful works of art. With the exception of the feet,
the lion is whole ; the expression of the eyes intimates that
a cunning hand has used the chisel. The mane is only partly
executed.

Strong creeping plants wound up around its sides, as if they
would bind it to the grave it adorned that grave which no
one knew.

As we stood here and regarded it, a herdsman stepped sud-
denly forth from the church ruins ; he was singing, but stopped
on seeing us. It was a melancholy song he sang, which
my companions knew well. It was genuine Athenian. We
begged him to repeat it ; he leaned against the marble lion,
and sang about the bewitched lover.

And the sun shone on the white marble lion which the wild
plants held bound ; the sun shone on the handsome, sorrowful
Greek who sang, and on the extended landscape around, which



THE EASTER FESTIVAL IN GREECE. 187

presented a picture of greatness and solitude. That melan-
choly tone in the song overlaid the whole expanse of the
scenery ; it intruded itself into our minds, and did not desert us
when we entered the lonely cottage, where all the light there
was came through the open door. The woman stood raking
some large black loaves out of the hot ashes in the middle of
the floor ; painted eggs of different colors were stuck in each
loaf in honor of Easter. The man stood quite carelessly, and
looked at his wife's work. A little boy played in the door-
way. I gave him a small coin ; he smiled quite pleased, and
told me his name was Demetrius. The black loaves with the
painted eggs made his festival : he was happy in anticipation
of them, and had waited with anxiety for the hour when they
were to be taken out of the ashes. That dark cabin was his
paradise; the marble lion his riding-horse: his mother had
often placed him on its back, whilst she gathered heath-ber
ries by the walls of the ruined church.



XI.

THE EASTER FESTIVAL IN GREECE.

THE Easter of the Catholics in Italy, and particularly in
Rome, is grand, fascinating ; it is an elevating sight to see that
immense mass of beings fall on their knees in St. Peter's
Place, and receive a benediction. The Easter festival in
Greece cannot show such magnificence, its resources are
too small ; but after having seen both, one comes to the con-
viction that in Rome it is a feast which in its glory and splen-
dor issues out from the Church to the people ; but in Greece
it is a feast which streams from the heart and thoughts of the
people from their very life ; the Church is but a link in the
chain. Previous to Easter there is a long and rigorous fast
which is religiously observed, the peasants living almost en-
tirely on bread, onions, and water.

The Athenian newspaper appeared on Good Friday with a
black border, in memory of the death of Christ : the vignette-
title was a sarcophagus with a weeping willow, and above it



1 88 A POET'S BAZAAR.

was a poem on the Passion by Lutzos. The festival itself be-
gan that evening. I went to the principal church ; it was
splendidly illuminated and completely full: before the altar
stood a glass coffin, fastened with silver plates. The coffin
contained fresh roses, intended to represent the dead Saviour.
A strange humming of voices from the praying congregation
sounded through the house of God ! Priests, in parti-colored
vestments, and bishops, came and went before the altar where
they read the prayers. At nine o'clock in the evening sacred
music began, and the procession started from the church
through the chief street, to the palace. I saw the slowly
moving procession conveniently from my window ; it was one
of the most solemn I have ever seen. It was a glittering
starlight night, so mild and calm ! Every spectator in the
balconies and open windows stood with a burning candle in
his hand. The music ascended to us from the side-street j
the smell of incense filled the air. Mournful music proceeded
from the military bands as though the people carried their
King to his grave. The coffin containing the fresh red roses
was borne along, surrounded by the priests ; over it hung a
long red mourning veil which was held by the chief states-
men and higher officers of the kingdom. A crowd of these
officers, and then the great mass of people, all, as I have said,
with burning candles, concluded the procession. There was
a stillness, an apparent sorrow or devotion, which worked its
effect upon every mind. The Bishop made a short speech
outside the palace where the King and Queen stood, and then
the King kissed the holy Bible. During the whole ceremony
there was a monotonous ringing of bells, always two strokes
and then a short pause ; day and night the church was filled
with people. The King, the Queen, and the whole court
were there on the midnight before Easter Day : the priests
stood praying and mourning around the flower-filled coffin ;
the whole congregation prayed in silence. The clock struck
twelve, and at the same moment the Bishop stepped forth, and
said : " Christ is risen ! " " Christ is risen ! " burst from every
tongue. Kettle-drums and trumpets sent forth their strains j
the music played the liveliest dances ! The whole people fell
on each other's necks, kissed, and joyously cried, " Christ



THE COURT IN ATHENS. 189

is risen ! " Shot after shot was heard outside ; rockets darted
into the air, torches were lighted, men and young lads, each
with a candle in his hand, danced in a long row through the
city. The women kindled fires, slaughtered lambs, and roasted
them in the streets. Little children, who had all got new fez
and new red shoes, danced in their shirts around the fires,
kissed each other, and exclaimed like their parents, " Christ
is risen ! " O, I could have pressed each of these children
to my heart and exulted with them. " Christ is risen ! " It
was touching, elevating, and beautiful.

It may be said that the whole was a ceremony ; and it may
be added, certainly with some truth, that their rejoicings ex-
pressed the satisfaction of the people that the rigorous fast
was over, and that now they could eat their lamb, and drink
their wine: well, admit that the fact was so, still I dare
venture to say there was something more ; there was a true, a
sincere religious jubilee. Christ was in their thoughts, as on
their lips. " Christ is risen ! " was the mutual assurance, made
as though it were no by-gone event ; no, it was as if it had
taken place on that night, and in this land. It was as if the
assurance had reached their ears at that moment, and for the
first time.

There were music and dancing everywhere in the capital,
and in every little town throughout the kingdom. All labor
was suspended, every one thought only of pleasure ; there
were dancing and mirth near Theseus's Temple and under
Zeus's marble columns. The mandolin twanged, the old
joined in the song ; and during the general joy the words of
welcome and leave-taking were : " Christ is risen 1 "



XII.

THE COURT IN ATHENS.

IT was from the olive grove on the way from Eleusis, that
King Otho saw the Acropolis and his royal city of Athens for
the first time. Then Athens was almost a heap of rubbish,
with a few wretched clay huts and some wood and brick



190 A POET'S BAZAAR.

houses ; a couple of these connected with a sort of pleasure
garden, constituted his palace, and now serves for it occasion-
ally until the new marble palace is completed.

It is an extremely modest building that the King occupies ;
it would, in any other country in Europe, be taken for a pri-
vate gentleman's summer villa ; a grass plot, ornamented with
a few shrubs, lies before it, and there the body-guard draws up
daily, the band playing airs from " Masaniello," " Elisir
d'Amore," or " Scaramouch," etc., and the Greek nursery girls
dance the little children in their arms to the merry tunes.

The young and amiable Queen is said to have been edu
cated in a most domestic manner in her home in Oldenburg.
She entered the frugal palace with a spirit of contentment, and
the people greeted her with shouts and welcome. They told
me that all the streets were strewn with roses on her arrival,
and that she had a bouquet herself of still rarer, and therefore
more beautiful flowers. Potatoes had then been just intro-
duced into Greece, and they had begun to use them. The
blossom on the tops of the potatoes appeared to the Greeks
as the rarest and prettiest flower they knew ; and therefore
they brought the Queen, who came from Oldenburg, a bouquet
of potato flowers !

The King is of the Roman Catholic religion, the Queen of
the Lutheran, and the children who may be born to them are
to be Greek Catholic. I believe that the young royal pair
are beloved by the nation, for I have heard several Greeks
mention their names with affectionate enthusiasm. And they
merit it ; a royal pair so young, and so amiable. It is no
happiness to reign in Greece. How much have they not re-
signed by living here !

How many troubles must inevitably touch the King's heart
for this people, and this land's sake ! He who reigns alone
in a devastated classic land, rich in noble monuments ; alone
with a people well I know them too little to pronounce
upon them but I love not this race. The Turks pleased
me far better ; they were honorable and good-natured.

God grant the noble King Otho constancy and persever-
ance.

The King and Queen travel about the country annually



THE COURT IN ATHENS.

and are everywhere received with enthusiasm. The people
come from a great distance with complaints and petitions ; the
young King listens to all, and has their case examined into,
so that these journeys often produce much good ; but they
are in themselves not so convenient, though everything is done
to mitigate the annoyances with which every journey in Greece
is filled. Servants are sent on before ; tents are erected where
they can pass the night ; the tables are found laid out amongst
the wild rocks ; the champagne foams, and shepherds and
shepherdesses dance on the plain outside the tent, whilst the
evening sun shines on the solitary marble column and the
high mountains. There is the decoration of nature, with a
ballet which the classic scene alone, where the gods once ap-
peared, can furnish; but many disagreeable circumstances
frequently happen ; many painful occasions arise. I will give
an instance.

Last year the royal party reached a small village where, the
night before their arrival, fourteen robbers had been com-
mitting depredations. When the King heard of this, he
immediately set out after them, with the whole of his little
life-guard. The Queen, her ladies, and a few gentlemen re-
mained behind, in anxious expectation as to the result. The
King, however, did not come up with any of the robbers ; but
some of the peasants of the village were more successful, suc-
ceeding in capturing several the following night, with whom
they made short work, for they cut their heads off, and came
running with them the next morning to the royal tent.

The King had, up to the time of my departure, only signed
one warrant of execution, and this was for a well-known and
dangerous robber. The Greeks, who themselves think noth-
ing of cutting off the head of such a fellow, cannot understand
how the law should demand the sacrifice of life, an example
of which was given me, in relation to the execution of the
aforesaid robber, which took place the year before. The gov-
ernment was obliged to write to Malta for an executioner, for
no Greek could be found to undertake the office.

The robber was led out to the olive grove, accompanied by
a guard of soldiers, and a numerous mass of the populace ; but
when he had been brought there, and the German soldiers had



102 A POETS BAZAAR.

formed a circle around him, he protested against the execu-
tion. " It was something," he said, " that they were not used
to here ! " and began to wrestle with the executioner. It is
said to have been terrible to look upon : the combat lasted
about two hours, and the soldiers durst not venture to interfere
between them. " We must take care that he does not es-
cape," said they ; " that is our duty." The executioner had
nearly lost his head in this conflict. The robber at length
sank exhausted and wounded to the ground, where he received
his death-blow. The executioner is said to have been secretly
murdered afterward. I, however, only tell the story as it was
told to me in Athens.

During my stay, I had the honor of being presented to the
King and Queen, who both showed me a kindness and favor,
which, in connection with the inward prepossession I had felt
for the royal pair in that new, flourishing Greece, made the
impression of both indelible in my heart.

I regard it as a hard fate to reign at this moment in Greece ;
and doubly hard for a young prince whose heart feels warmly
for his kingdom and his people.

The apartments in the palace are small but comfortable,
and one feels at ease there. The King and Queen received
me in company. He was dressed in the Greek costume, and
she in a Prankish suit of mourning, a near relative of hers be-
ing just then dead. The King appears very young, but some-
what pale and suffering ; he has lively eyes, and there is a
very mild and amiable expression in his features. Our con-
versation was about Greece, its climate, monuments, and
beauty ; and I stated that I found the Greek mountains much
more beautiful in form and color than the Italian. They ap-
peared to have made the same impression on the King, who
talked with vivacity and spirit.

I expressed my opinion that it must be extremely interesting
to him to see Athens growing up, as it were, before his eyes ;
for the stranger here, every few weeks, perceives an enlarge-
ment of the city. He asked me what impression the town of
Syra and its harbor had made on me, and seemed to be glad
lo hear of the activity and the number of vessels I had found
there.



PROKESCH- OS TEN. 1 9 3

The Queen is young and handsome ; she has an aspect of
mildness and wisdom. She spoke most of my intended voy-
age to Constantinople, and of the passage of the Danube,
which appeared to her to be long, and very troublesome.

It is a fine sight to see the King and Queen, both young
and animated, surrounded by their ladies and gentlemen, rid-
ing in Greek costume along the road over the heath. The
eye easily recognizes the two chief figures in the picture ; but
still a third is prominent it is a young female on horseback
we already know her : it is the hero, Marco Bozzaris' daugh-
ter, the Queen's maid of honor. With the red fez on her jet-
black hair, she follows her young Queen like the beautiful
genius of Greece ; her long, dark eyelashes are set like silken
fringes over her fiery eyes. She is beautiful as she rides on
her noble horse, and she is beautiful when she tarries so that
we can fully regard her face.

I was presented to her one evening at the residence of Frau
Pluskov, the Queen's first lady of honor. I only heard her
speak Greek and Italian. Amongst the many different pic-
tures that my memory has brought from Greece, Marco Boz-
zaris' daughter is the beauteous ideal of the daughters of that
land.



XIII.

PROKESCH-OSTEN.

AMONGST the diplomatists at the court of Athens, the Aus-
trian Minister, Prokesch-Osten was the most interesting. I
had read his " Travels in the Holy Land," and some of his
beautiful oriental poems : he became doubly dear and inter-
esting to me by personal acquaintance, and all the kindness
and attention he showed me. Anton Prokesch was born on
his father's estate in Gratz on the loth of December, 1795 >
and when a boy distinguished himself by his dexterity in swim
ming and skating. In 1813 he fought for his native land ;
afterward was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the Col-
lege for Cadets in Olmutz ; was subsequently Adjutant to
Prince Schwartzenburg, and by his spirited military writings
13



194



POET'S BAZAAR.



oon became the subject of much interest and attention. As
Lieutenant-colonel in the staff, he arrived at Trieste, where
the sight of the sea awoke his desire to travel : the Greek na-
tion was the one for which he felt most interest. He went to
Greece, Asia Minor, and Constantinople, where he effected
much good for the Austrian trade in the Levant After hav-
ing again travelled through Greece and the islands, he stayed
one winter in Constantinople, and then went over Asia Minor
to Egypt and Nubia, where he connected himself with Me-
hemet Ali. On his return home he took Smyrna in his way.
He acted with equally as much prudence as severity against
the powerful mass of pirates that infested the whole Mediter-
ranean. In 1828, during a visit to Capo d'Istria in Paros, he
effected an exchange of Greek and Arabian prisoners. The
year after, we see him in Palestine with the Paha of St. Jean
d'Acre, a man who is equally well-known for his peculiar-
ities, as by his firm will and austerity: he concluded a treaty
with him in favor of the Christians in Palestine and Galilee.

After the Greeks became free, Prokesch was recalled to
Vienna. The Emperor raised him to the rank of nobility,
and, as he had gained his knightly spurs in the East, he gave
him the surname of " Osten." In 1822, he lived in Rome,
where he was appointed Austrian Ambassador ; he now fills
the same post in the capital of Greece.

One of the furthermost buildings in Athens, in the direc-
tion of Parnassus, is a simple but elegantly arranged villa.
The glass door opens ; we turn our backs to the extended
heath and the high mountains, and on seeing the polished,
carpeted stairs, we think we are at a summer residence by
the Danube's imperial city. This belief almost changes into
certainty when we are ushered into the tastefully decorated
rooms, and see rococo furniture, modern rocking-chairs, mag-
nificent mirrors, and paintings. An amiable host and hostess
greet us in German. We are in the presence of Prokesch-
Osten and his talented lady. There is nothing here to remind
us that Athens is in its early growth. This villa may rank
with those of Naples, Vienna, and Copenhagen.

Prokesch-Osten is a handsome, powerful man, with dark,
repressive eyes. He is an excellent lecturer. When I was



PROKESCH- OS TEN.



'95



Introduced into his house for the first time, he was requested
by the company, after dinner, to read one of his poems. He
promised to comply ; but he first took a volume of Chamisso's
poems, and read those of mine which Chamisso has trans-
lated ; he read them with such effect that they sounded like
music, and the imagery in each became visible. Read as they



Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 17 of 31)